Let’s say for a moment that you’re a Major League pitcher that is working towards a goal. That goal is to work AT LEAST 210 innings in a season to get an innings bonus of $500,000 for your effort. Then, on the night you’re scheduled to hit that mark, mother nature decides to put your game in a rain delay and you miss your goal by one single out. That’s what happened to Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes on Wednesday night in a 2-1 victory over Arizona.
When the Twins starter signed his current contract, one of the stipulations was that he would collect a nice $500,000 bonus if he could pitch a minimum of 210 innings over the course of the regular season. He probably would’ve already hit that mark a few starts back, had rain not washed out a previous start this year and cut short another appearance. Nevertheless, he was set to achieve 210 innings on Wednesday.
He was cruising through eight solid innings, when the rain arrived. He gave up just one run on five hits, while striking five batters and all without issuing a single walk. It was a historic performance, as be comes the first player in the modern era (since 1901) to throw throw at least 200 innings and walk 16 or fewer batters. In fact, he didn’t issue a single walk in 19 of his 32 starts this season. But the one hour rain delay curbed his chances at a nice payday.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Hughes would’ve gone back out for the ninth if not for the day, as he was only at 96 pitches. He also added that Hughes won’t pitch in relief this weekend against the Tigers to hit that mark. He turned down the opportunity to pitch this weekend, and noted that the contract incentive just wasn’t meant to happen.
I just didn’t feel like it was right. If we were fighting for a playoff spot, I’d be 100% available. But given the circumstances, I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I owe too much to this organization for the next two years to risk getting hurt for a contract incentive. If my last start of the year gets rained out, or my last inning gets rained out, for whatever reason getting the bonus is just not meant to be.
He also doesn’t want them to just give him the money as a “goodwill gesture” for the performance he’s put in this year either. General manager Terry Ryan went on to note that giving Hughes the money without restructuring his contract would have been against the collective bargaining agreement that MLB has with the player’s union. So even if they WANTED to just cut him a check, legally it wouldn’t be that easy.
Hughes, a former member of the Yankees, finishes the year with a 16-10 record and a 3.52 ERA. He struck out a total of 186 batters this season,